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William Douglas


(8th Earl of Douglas)

c.1425 - 1452

Leader of the 'Black Douglas' clan, succeeding his father in 1443. By marrying his cousin, he reunited the family and estates, increasing his power to a level where his support approached that of the crown. This was compounded when Douglas formed an alliance with the Earl of Ross and the Earl of Crawford. Douglas was not a pleasant man, fond of cruelty and murder, and paid little heed to royal authority. The young King James II (1430-60) felt sufficiently threatened that he invited Douglas to dinner at Stirling Castle and when Douglas refused to disengage from the alliance, the King stabbed him in the neck. His attendants finished Douglas off and threw his body from a window. His brother James Douglas (1426 - 1488) succeeded to the Earldom and took up arms against the King. However, over the next three years, the King proceeded to destroy the Douglas castles and defeated William's brothers at Arkinholm near Langholm.


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